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Jonathan Taylor headlines this edition of Jay’s annual article series: 2023 Stat Projections.



Heading into 2022, there was much optimism for the Colts run game. After all in 2021, the Colts rushing attack was top 5 in:

  • 499 Carries | 5th
  • 2,540 Yards | 2nd
  • 22 TDs | 5th
  • 5.1 Yards Per Attempt| 2nd

Led by 2nd year back Jonathan Taylor’s league-leading 1,811 rushing yards and 18 TDs with 5.5 ypc, the Colts felt primed for another strong year on the ground.


However, in 2022 the Colts rushing success regressed significantly. Instead, they finished bottom 10 in:

  • 1,866 Yards | 23rd
  • 8 TDs | 30th
  • 4.3 Yards Per Attempt | 23rd

What caused this dramatic downfall? Jonathan Taylor missing 6 games (and playing just 2 snaps before injury in a 7th) certainly played a part. But even with Taylor in the lineup, he could only gain 4.5 ypc and 4 TDs.


The Colts Offensive Line’s play also played a role in regression. In 2021 7/8 Colts OL with 140+ run blocking snaps had a PFF run block grade in the 69.5-86 range. In 2022 only 2 OL fell in that range: OTs Braden Smith & rookie Bernard Raimann. Losing Eric Fisher, Mark Glowinski, and Chris Reed in Free Agency had a negative impact on the Colts run blocking. Add to this the regression of Quenton Nelson, Danny Pinter, & Matt Pryor, the lack of capable blockers in the run game hurt Taylor and the RBs’ ability to find easy running lanes.

And finally, a lack of mobility at QB played a factor in this weakened run game. Carson Wentz added a decently mobile QB to the Colts backfield to help RPO rushing success. 38 and 34-year-olds Matt Ryan and Nick Foles were more traditional pocket passers whose rushing wasn’t a serious threat for most NFL defenses. Sam Ehlinger offered some rushing ability in his 3 starts, but the threat of a mobile QB was very diminished in 2022 compared to 2021.


With a healthy Taylor, a full year of development for Raimann as the starting LT + some new rookie OL, and a highly athletic dual-threat QB now under center, what can we expect for the Colts RBs in 2023? 


Colts 2023 RB Rushing Projections
RBs Jonathan Taylor Zack Moss Evan Hull Deon Jackson TOTAL
Carries 261 88 27 23 399
Yards 1,501 395 100 79 2075
Yards Per Carry 5.75 4.49 3.7 3.45 5.20
TDs 10 1 0 0 11
1st Downs 71 19 6 5 101
Yards After Contact 771 244 58 57 1129
YAC Per Carry 2.95 2.77 2.13 2.46 2.83
Rushing Yards Over Expected 394 42 6 5 447
RYOE Per Carry 1.51 0.48 0.22 0.22 1.12
Fumbles 3 1 0 0 4
Colts 2023 RB Receiving Projection
Jonathan Taylor Zack Moss Evan Hull Deon Jackson TOTAL
Targets 41 11 5 4 61
Catches 30 7 3 2 42
Catch % 73.17% 63.64% 60.00% 50.00% 68.85%
Drops 2 1 0 0 3
Drop % 4.9% 9% 0% 0% 4.9%
Yards 249 25 20 14 308
Yards Per Catch 8.3 3.6 6.7 7 7.3
TDs 1 0 0 0 1

How Would The Colts Run Game Rank?

Based on 2022 Team Rushing Statistics, the Total Colts Rushing attack would rank:


  • 548 Carries | 3rd
  • 2,990 Rushing Yards | 2nd
  • 5.46 Yards Per Carry | Tied 1st
  • 20 TDs | Tied 5th



Jonathan Taylor Resurgence


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A rebounding Colts Offensive Line with Bernhard Raimann staying as the starting LT for a full season alone would be huge for Taylor. Matt Pryor’s 50.4 run-blocking grade was 2nd worst on the team, and he was a starter for 6 out of Taylor’s 10 fully healthy games. Bernhard Raimann’s 74.7 run block was 2nd best on the Colts and a big boost for Taylor. Taylor had 399 rushing yards and 3 TDs from Weeks 10-13 with Raimann starting at LT. Compare that to 462 rushing yards and 1 TD in 6 games with Pryor and it’s clear that that change in the lineup alone will help Taylor rebound. Add in rookies Blake Freeland and Emil Ekiyor Jr. with healthier vet OL, the Colts run blocking will be much improved.




Taylor’s prior career highs in rushing efficiency stats were 5.5 yards per carry and 1.48 RYOE per carry. With Anthony Richardson as his backfield mate Taylor is due for a big bounceback to around those levels once again. However, he is also due for one of the lowest per-game carry volumes of his career due to Richardson. With a weighted average of 15.35 carries per game for RB1 under Shane Steichen = 261 carries for 17 games. Richardson also could steal some goal-line work from Taylor, as Hurts had 23 rushing TDs in the last 2 years (16 of which were 1-3 yard TDs). While it might not be Taylor’s best fantasy season, it could be his most efficient season.



Overall, Jonathan Taylor’s climb back to the top of the RB hierarchy is a pretty solid bet to make. He might not have the same receiving impact as years past (dual-threat QBs tend to scramble more often rather than checkdown compared to pocket passers, thus decreasing RB targets) but his high rushing floor in a high volume and highly efficient rushing attack will give him an opportunity to reclaim the Best RB title.

Zack Moss Holds Steady at RB2


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Zack Moss arrived in Indy in mid-2022 through a trade that sent Nyheim Hines to the Bills. Moss impressed in 2022, especially as Jonathan Taylor was out towards the end of the year. On 76 carries he rushed for 365 Yards  (4.8 ypc) and 1 TD. While he doesn’t offer much as a receiver, Moss can be a strong power back to spell Taylor at times. His bruising running style should factor in the Colts’ personnel during short-yardage situations. He also offers really good pass protection in the backfield, which should help Richardson.




Ultimately, Moss is the best bet to hold the RB2 job as the veteran of the RB room. He might not be as fast or offer the same dual-threat ability through the air as the RBs behind him, but his profile is still valuable for the Colts. I project him to have a similar total workload in 2023 as 2022, but spread out over 17 games instead of 8 with Taylor healthy. If Taylor goes down again, Moss likely will take the lion’s share of carries in the backfield until his return.

Deon Jackson VS Evan Hull


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One of the most underrated battles to look forward to in camp is between former 2021 undrafted free agent Deon Jackson vs 2023 5th-round rookie RB Evan Hull. Both backs project to fill the speedy change of pace and receiving back role. Both are average-sized backs (5’10-5’11 210-215lbs), with 4.4 speed.

Evan Hull had 108 targets, 87 catches, 810 yards, and 4 TDs through the air in the last 2 seasons for Northwestern. Deon Jackson had 34 targets, 30 catches, 207 yards, and 1 TD last year for the Colts. While neither is as skilled of a runner on the ground (Jackson averaging 3.3 ypc so far in the NFL, Hull averaging 4.2 ypc in 2022 at Northwestern), they can make an impact out of the backfield.



Sadly though, with Richardson at QB, RB receiving volume likely will go down. In 2022 Richardson only threw to RBs 30 times in 330 attempts. Generally speaking, mobile dual-threat QBs in the NFL don’t throw to RBs as much as pocket passers as they have the ability to use their legs as weapons better and at a higher frequency. This predominantly comes at the expense of checkdown throws to RBs.

Add this natural decrease in total volume, Taylor’s own receiving prowess, and Moss’s ability to stay in on third downs as a pass blocker, and the duo of Hull and Jackson likely have reduced roles in 2022. Barring injury to an RB ahead of them on the depth chart, their usage likely will be sporadic.

Overall, 2023 has the potential to be the best season in franchise history on the ground.



More from The Blue Stable:


  • Read about the Isaiah Rodgers Sr. investigation and what it could mean for him as well as Indianapolis: HERE


  • Make sure to keep up with Jay’s 2023 Stat Projection article series as the 3rd episode in the series will be published on Tuesday, June 13th. In the meantime, be sure to check out his pilot episode, if you haven’t already, which covers the QB Room, and more specifically, projects Anthony Richardson’s rookie campaign. The pilot episode in question can be found: HERE
Jay Robins

Twitter: @RobinsLucas Instagram: Lucas._.Robins


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